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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  September 11, 2010 5:30am-6:00am EDT

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louisiana and other areas of the gulf coast grapple with an ecological crisis just as small business in new orleans rebounds from the long lasting effects of hurricane katrina. how small biz in the big easy is overcoming big problems. that and more coming up next on "your business." it's not just any business, it's your business. that's why american express open
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is proud to present "your business" on msnbc. hi there, everyone. welcome to your business where we give you tips andadvice to help your business grow. once again the gulf coast is facing disastrous conditions and officials are worrying about the economic impact. but new orleans has a wayf rebounding from a crisis whether it's the gulf oil spill, the recession, ohurricane katrina the city has an unwavering spirit of survival. five years after katrina, a new group of innovative entrepreneurs is leading the city in an effort to reinvent itself as a creative economy.
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>> we're passionate. >> my name is kyle burner. i am the crea tor and ceo of field goods flip-flops. >> my name is sima sudan and i candy knitwear. >> i'm the co-founder and president of the receivables eke change. >> reporter: five years after the devastation from hurricane katrina, new orleans is experiencing a renaissance. and small business owners are leading the way. >> new orleans is becong this national laboratory of a next generation of entrepreneurial leaders. >> it's created sort of an interesting synergy of, you know, committed natives as well as these very enterprising idealistic newcomers. >> those that n stayed in new orleans like matt wisdom and ken percell were considered pioneers. >> it felt like the wild west. and it made us feel like
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pioneers rebuilding something from the ground up.od >> when everybody was fleeing the city and businesses were closing left and right and the news was piling on about who was leaving town next? i said, you know, i'm going to do something right. this is an opportunity for me to take a mble, but for me to do something i believe in. >> and today while other cities are struggling to stay afloat during this tough economy, new orleans has been growing thank to a lo cost of living, generous tax credits, and a rich culture. y >> you can start a business here for 30% to 40% less than new york or san francisco. so why offshore to bangalore when you can offshore to new orleans? you can come here and do it better and do it cheaper and do it with me enthusiastic people than almost anywhere else in the country. >> there are somepretty exciting digital media and film-relatede tax credits that are available. and the tax credits are second to none. >> louisiana's now number three in the united states in terms of film production behind only california and new york.
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>> at the epicenter is the ip building, entrepreneurs row, and the alley the three house some of the most innovative companies in new orleans. >> what you have here is a community of entrepreneurs that have moved into this building in the last year from the fastesti growing companies in the company to iseatz to feel goods. what this board represenl is the entrepreneurial community within new orleans. and it's just one of the few innovative hubs sprouting up all around the community. >> there's a natural business network that's developing. requires nothing but putting like-minded people togetr and letting them do what comes naturally. >> kyle burner of feel goods and craig cordes met at the ip building d and found that ey could collaborate on the packin of kyle's flip-flops in kordina's warehouse space.
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>> why not add flip-flops to the mix and sure enough, a joint venture was formed. >> sima's desire to rebuild new orleans was so strong, she left her job in new york as a sweater designer to follow her dream of starting her own clothing company. >> the enthusiasm for a new business here is just incredible. ey rolled out the red carpet for us, you know. and was like whatever we can do to have you succeed, you know, we want you to succeed. >> the momentum the city felt when the new orleans saints won in the2010 super bowl became a symbol of thcity's amazing comeback. >> well, it had incredible meaning that the saints won the super bowl. we'd fixed so many problems and changed so many things that had been wrong. it already felt like we'd had a victory that i didn't expect to see in my lifetime. >> new orleans is on the rise, a recession-proof haven eager to support new businesses with entrepreneurs working together to esucceed.
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>> my huge business partner. it's on the lael, and it'll stay on the business partns inve in your busineness and new orleans inves in my business. both people on the street in the community, my friends, the businesses here. i mean, they want me to succeed. and, you know -- d in ways that are beyond just capital instments. >> when you're living her you feel as though you're living a part of history. you're part of something that history will look back and say this was the moment when new orleans turned around. these inspiringin entrepreneurs in new orleans resiliency again that is essential for small business success. t let's turn to this week's board of directors. businesshess ceo of grow media, a company that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses, also a columnist for
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and lonie haye. great to see both of you. >> great to see you. >> i love that story. and it kind of reminds me in some ways of when i was working for a small company in 1998 and i would take the plane from los angeles to san francisco back and forth. and all of us were in small, entrepreneurial companies. and there was this excitement that was palpable. >> well, you feel you're the part of something. and your activities make a big impact on the outcome of the economy. so it's special to be a part of a small business. >> it's being present at the rebirth. you're right. it is like the '90s where all of a sudden the dot com boom. so you know that new orleans is going to come back. everybody in america is invested in it, even before katrina it's always been the legendary city. i think there's going to be a huge boom. and they're going to build businesses and people are going to flock to the city. >> how helpful is it? truly, truly helpful beyond just kind of -- oh, this is fun.
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how helpful is it to be around an environment where there's a lot of entrepreneurial activity? >> i think that's one of the things we've lost in the last ten years. if you remember back in the '90s, there were all of those incubators. and it was -- even the sba was running some where entrepreneurs were together feeding off each other. here's this guy packing his flip-flops with the margaritas. i mean, there's so many possibilities that you wonder why there aren't more incubators today. because i think one idea breeds another. >> you know, new orleans clearly the city's doing a lot. they're giving tax breaks, doing all kinds of things, but you can create this in other cities, as well. >> well, it's important -- small business owners have always been the ones that can make decisions. and so that's why they've flourished in new orleans rather than large companies because they're able to make decisions as long as they have access to capital. they're able to grow and build their companies. >> yeah, but for somebody who is
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not going to pick up and move to new orleans. for instance, they have some office space where it's just for entrepreneurs and you go in. >> part of it, ths ough, is the governments of the city. entrepreneurs will do it and can do it. they're the ones who are going to be out there and create that, but they need support from city government, state governmt, local government if it's not a city or a town to help -- to help them, to make it attractive. not just offer the tax breaks and incentives to the big companies, but to the smaller ones or to the people who want to serve the smaller ones, as well. >> and access to capital. that's probably the biggest thing for small business owners is to have the access to capital. >> you work to give them advice on small business. as somebody living in a city ngat's not new orleans, what do you do if you're trying to ask for some of these things? >> well, it's important to establish a good relationship with your local bank. and for smaller businesses, i found it's better to have relationships with community venks or regional banks and maybe not the big fi. you'll get that personalized
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attention and they'll understand the needs of your company more. also i recommend getting to know the small business administration's programs. they have lots of programs where they will guarantee and back your loans with partnering banks. >> all right. well, this is a really fun piece to watch and to talk about. and certainly a good commercial if you're an entrepreneur to go down to new orleans. >> we all want to go now. >> thanks so much, you guys. >> thanks. >> it generally takes a lot of time and often a lot of money to build a brand. but what if you could start manufacturing and selling something that was already popular? for an enterprising family in boston, discovering a trademark d to the birth of a small business and a rebirth of a classic toy. for millions of kids growin up in the 1960s, this was the present they dreamed of opening. >> i was 5 years old, i got my first set. i played with it quite a bit. i remember playing with it on the wood floors up in the second floor of our house, and i had a
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lot of room to build. and i'd build roads and bridges with that. >> nearly 50 years later, when paul and carol flak were searching for a christmas gift for their son, paul thought about buying him his favorite childhood toy. >> paul sr. looked at me and said, you know, i hd this toy when i was a kid. i don't think it's ma anymore. he says i haven't seen it since i was a boy. >> girder a panel was a construction set. but when kenner stopped nufacturing it in the 1970s, the sets disappeared off the toy store shelves. >> i went on ebay and found a vintage hydro set and ordered it and thought, oh, this will be fun. i'll give it to paul sr. for christmas. well, it came, i opened the box and looked at it and thought this isn't going to wait for christmas. so i got it out, we set it up. i took one look at it and said
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this is the coolest toy i've ever seen. >> a successful corporate executive with degrees, carol was so excited by the vintage girder and panel set, she had a hunch there might still be a market for edit. when carol looked into the status of the trademarks in 2003, she was shocked to find they were free and clear.arks >> the trademarks had been released to the public domain in the summer of 2002. and so i went to my husband again, you know, and said, oh, all the trademarks are available. >> the flaks had stumbled upon a potential gold mine in the ghly competitive toy usiness. >> trademarks intellectual property is everything in the toy industry. so when toy executives when i meet them at toy fair and other industry events and they look at me and they're like, who are yoa paying a license fee to to use girder and panel. and i tell them the story, their jaws drop. they're just like, oh, my god. how did you do that?
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>> armed with an intellectual property lawyer, the couple filed an application for the girder and panel trademarks and set up their business. bridirge street toys out of the suburban boston home. >> as soon as you apply for the trademark, you're entitled to use the little tm. once you go through the entire process and it's done, you use the little r with the circle called registered. and that means it's now complete. >> with the old kenner desins long gone, paul was in charge of producing the new generation of sets from scratch. >> we bought old sets so we coulsee what they were and reverse engineer them and look at the literatu and what could be built with it and what parts should we do first. >> bridge start toys based on their nostalgic toy name. but they're winning over a new generation. >> i really love the hydro dam because there's so much you can do with it and it's water.
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water's just fun. memorial day is just a few weeks away and that means it's time to start thinking about your summer reading list. here are five books on entrepreneurship to read when you're at the beach courtesy of the small business blog "unde 30 ceo." provides case studies on how people can market their business solely through the power of word of mouth marketing. "career renegade" is a look at how people can set out on their own. for the young entrepreneur "upstarts" is a look at how ceos from generation y have achieved success in business. chris anderson's "free" prevents a unique perspective on the philosophy of pricing in the online marketplace. and "b-a-m" argues against the time honored customer service
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mantras. stilto come, how to run a small business from your home without feeling isolated and out of touch. and it's been a good year for wine entrepreneur gary, he gives us vintage business advice in today's "learning from the pros." [trumpet playing "reveille" throughout]
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reviving the economy means reinventing the way we do business. here's to the owners showing us the way. [trumpet playing "reveille" fades to silence] branding andod a good bottl of wine. those are two things that come to mind when you're talking about gary. the owner of new jersey's wine library and the front man on the
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blog has developed quite the following online and in his store. now in his speaking engagements and his book, he aspires to inspire other entrepreneurs. >> i think passion is everything for one main reason. you know, if skill was always the winning formula, the number oneck pick in every draft, you know the kids that graduate from harvard and stanford would always win. i think when you really love mething it allows you the opportunity to work the hours, i think, that are needed to have success. whether it's hiking or yoga. if you're wrapping a business, creating content around e thing you love the most, you're going to natural flow into a better success level. maybe if you didn't watch an hour of "lost" and an hour of "gossip girl" and played two hoursi of nintendo wii and got
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beer witguys or went shopping in the mall for an hour, i think there's a lot more time to work than people realize. i think what really excites me is how practical it is now to build a business. you can even work your 9:00 to 5:00. spend a couple hours with your family and from 7:00 p.m. until 2:00 in the morning, that's plenty of time to do damage. i don't think people are willing to put in the commitment. building your personal brand right now is the true gold rush land grab opportunity for most small businesses out rethere. whether you're a lawyer or in landscaping, or have a flower op. not creating content around your personal brand is a huge missed opportunity. look at myself. i grew up in the wine business, i did a wine show, i built a personal brand. but now i talk about business anmarketing and branding and web 2.0, and a lot of my fan base is followed because it was my personal brand not the tv buding the equity. and i think there's a lot to learn through that for a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses.
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i'm a story teller. i like to get excited and all that. transparency is here. it's here. everything i say, not only interviews like this for television, but every video blog, every tweet, every facebook status. this stuff being documented forever, easily searchable. and so it is more important than ever to be stand up, to do the right thing because every consumer has a voice now. you come last. that was a big statement. i got very lucky being an immigrant, being in a small familybusiness. i understood customer service and take care of the customer first and that's been a big backbone of all of my success from the store to the show to everything else. it's really my most cardinal rule of all time. if you'rere not taking care of e people around you and so many small businesses don't. so many of them don't. they don't view that top second, third, fourth people valuable enough. that's why they have rotation,
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that's why they don't build a family. all i ever want to do is when i hire somebody i like is to keep them forever. it's time now to answer some of your business questions. rieva and lani are back with us. the first is an e-mail from jason. he writes, i want to look for an investor for my busines but don't want to give up vital information. i'm worried that such information could jeopardize the integrity of my company. so what does he do? >> well, i think he has to get in touch with his organ that god's given everyone, and that 's his gut. it's important to do the gut check and now you're going to enter into a relationship with someone you trust. and after you do that, you get that good sense th might be a good person to talk to. i would then carefully screen that person and get an nda in place, a nondisclosure agreement. and you can get boilerplate one on the internet, but have a lawyer look over it. and once you do that, check the
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references of that person to make sure they're what they say they are. >> it interesting, though. because you have to give a little before you can even get somebody to sign an nda. i know i'm very wary of signing anything like that. and so how do you know? >> i think lani's right, you have to check your gut. i wouldkn check references firs. you know, ask them, who have you dealt with? and check those people and google the person. search the -- everybody's information is online today. and the thing is, you're not going to -- at some point, you're going to have to spill. you want th person to invest money. you don't get to keep all your information to yourself. >> right. >> reality says. so you need to make sure that person is the one that feels good to you. >> let's move on to the next one. this comes from the owner of a company that offers cooking classes. >> i use facebook, linkton, twitter, and flickr. we also have a blog. what is the best way to measure my return on investment using
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those sites? > so rieva, you're about to host a panel on social networking. you're the best to answer this. >> it's difficult to do an exact roi on this. particularly some people say look at your analytics. if you're trying to drive people to your blog, you can see where they're coming from. the problem is most people who use twitter use a third party app soit comes to your blog and you don't knowac that twitter actually sent them there. so you can't be so reliant on those tools. a lot of that is gut feel. you know when you've gone out there and spread the word on twitter or said something on facebook and you can see within the next couple of days was there a big surge of traffic to your blog? and then are you converting that? she's not a writer. her goal is not to get people to read her blog, it's to get people to spend money on her cooking school. you have to see how much money you're making from that. >> it's important also to think about what it is you want from those sites. those sites can serve very different purposes. are you using those sites to
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generate revenue? is it an awareness campaign? are you trying to communicate with your audience? it's important to think about what you want to use those sites for. >> that's so true. any any kind of analysis, first figure out what is your end goal and then track backwards to figure out if it's workg or not. good idea. now let's move on to the next question. ester writ my payroll service forgot to charge my employee her share of health care costs for two months. should i eat that cost or make her pay my company back? this is actually from a friend of mine. so i'd love to hear -- >> i have a general rule of really trying to treat every employee equally. and if we're talking about two months, then i think it's a good idea to make them pay it back, but you can set up an installment payment that goes out over the next couple of months. and if it's a higher level employee, maybe you'll deduct it from their bonus, but i think it's a good idea, especially if it's two months to have them pay
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it back. >> what do you think? >> i agree. sounds very nice and she sounds like there's somebody i'd be very sympatico with, but you can't. you can't do that. but i like what lani said, make it easy for them in case they've spent the money. >> i thinkhat's a good point. my first feeling was, well, if this person doesn't make that much money and i know in this case they don't, they're kind of living hand-to-mouth, they're not going to have this money stored up to pay back. but ke your idea. this is a question from a woman who makes pottery. >> how to keep your employees on track with like staying busy and setting time limi for projects that need to be done. >> being a good manager. >> it is being a good manager, but i'm wondering if heenr employees aren't on track. and she's worried about them getting their stuff done. one, does she need full-time employees? maybe she has more people than she needs. and two, part of being an
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entrepreneur is your tendency is to micromanage. and i think it's better to give somebody their task, give them their job, their deadline and then let them do it. >> one of my fore sayings is never mistake emotion forbo progress. i'm all aut the productivity, not about keeping somebody busy. and it's important to make sure you map out tasks for your employees. talkbout how much time it's going to take, setth the mileste and the deadline and work towards that deadline. >> i think that's the point. is give them a deadline and then check in with them after it's done. did this take a lot of time? did it not take a lot of time? so you get a sense of how to set the deadlines going forward. >> right. but its's really a lot of surves have said from employees is trust me. especially if you've been there a while. trust me that i'm going to get my job done and stop pestering me. like, are you doing it? are you doing it? because then you feel like -- you don't trust me, i'm going to go -- >> be involved it's going to be done.
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and let them go. this is an e-mail from barbara about having a home office. the question is. how does one beat thble isolati blues of working alone at home on a startp company? sharing space with another company would mean rent, insurance, liability, et cetera. it's hard i worked from home a little while, and i swear it would be 5:00 and i'd realize i was still in my pajamas. >> her question is more about saving money rather than just being lonely. i'll approach it from the monetary standpoint. i think you can join several organizations, get involved with the local chamber of commerce, trade organizations, that'll keep you current. also, interact with your pee or mentors that are in your industry. and that should help keep you from feeling so isolated. >> two things, though. she could see if she could barter somspace. that's what we do.gç =3
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with somebody. >> you have to go out. >> thank you for this advice. >> it was very helpful. and if any of you out there have a question for our expert, go to our website. the address is submit a question for our panel. again the website is or if you'd like, you can e-mail your estion or comment. that address is are you tired of creating that same old power point presentation? if so, you might want toheck out our website of the week.
5:58 am provides a time honored tradition. users can create a story on a blank canvas and then add eye catching zooms and pans to mov between talking pointsment presentations can be worked on collaboratively or offline. the site offers a free account to test out the service. to learn more about today's show, just click on our website. it's/y you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with more information to help you grow your business. next week, meet one of the new bloggers who found his success online. >> there are lots of ways to make money with a blog. and often they're not tied directly to the blog itself. >> from making tiny houses to making a big profit from blogging, we'll find out how to make it work. remember, we make your business
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our business. [trumpet playing "reveille" throughout] reviving the economy means


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